Document Name: Tourists & Outdoor Enthusiasts (10 of 23)
Date: 09/01/94
Owner: National Performance Review
Title: Standards for Our Customers: Tourists & Outdoor Enthusiasts (10 of 23)

Author: Vice President Al Gore's National Performance Review

Date: September, 1994


CUSTOMER GROUP: Travelers, Tourists, and Outdoor Enthusiasts


Sometimes having a customer's perspective requires that you literally

take his or her point of view. That's what happened when the National

Park Service surveyed the customers who take tours of the White

House. They found that the signs were a real problem. One third of

the visitors were children, many of whom couldn't see the exhibit

signs. And adults couldn't figure out where to go to get tickets or

gain entrance. As a result, the Park Service and the Executive Office

of the President lowered some exhibit signs to a child's eye level

and posted a map and directions near the White House gates.

The White House tour is one of the best-known services that the

federal government offers, but it is only one of the thousands of

services that are used every day by Americans on the move -- millions

of travelers, tourists, campers, boaters and others. Visitors go to

National Parks 273 million times a year. Twenty-six million hunters,

hikers, and other outdoor people use Forest Service land every year.

Americans take 45 million trips abroad annually, and the State

Department issues more than 4 million passports a year. Eighty-two

thousand boaters use the Coast Guard's search and rescue services

annually -- a small but grateful percentage of the 55 million people

who benefit in other, less direct ways from the Coast Guard's


Tourists and Outdoor Enthusiasts


The federal government manages millions of acres of land, thousands

of forests and lakes, and a vast network of traveling exhibits,

museums and historic sites. Just think of Grand Canyon National Park.

The Washington Monument. Mesa Verde. The Outer Banks. Lincoln's home.

Muir Woods. Yellowstone. Across the country, vacationers and

weekenders, hikers and campers enjoy the beauty and history of our


The National Park Service has a long tradition of hosting visitors at

such sites. Trails, visitor centers, educational programs, and guides

have made many a vacation and weekend enjoyable and memorable. Now

the Park Service is going further -- talking to its customers,

setting standards, and improving service.

The Park Service is proving the wisdom that only the customer knows

what the customer wants. "After 20,000 interviews, I am convinced

there is no way to know what park visitors want except to ask them,"

says Gary Machlis, who is expanding the visitor survey program begun

in 1988.

As a result of what its customers have said, the Park Service is

offering special programs for children in many parks. It also changed

the planned location of an information center in Grand Teton National

Park. And it is working to make sure that every visitor who wants one

gets a brochure.

One of the biggest surprises the Park Service got was from surveying

visitors at Death Valley. It found that 75 percent of all visitors

are foreign -- primarily Germans, French, and Italians. The Park

Service quickly translated the posted directions for emergency car

breakdowns -- potentially saving lives as well as serving customers.

The Death Valley survey results underline an additional reason for

federal facilities to be customer-driven. Parks and other sites are

significant tourist attractions with clear benefits to local hotels,

motels, restaurants, and other businesses. They also draw foreign

visitors and revenues to the United States.

Other federal agencies are surveying their customers and setting

service standards. The Forest Service manages 191 million acres of

national forests and grasslands on behalf of the American people. In

the past year, the Forest Service has conducted a national public

opinion poll and held town hall meetings, focus groups, and local

forest planning meetings to listen to its diverse customers,

including boaters, campers, and other recreational users of 156

national forests and 19 national grasslands from Maine to Alaska.

The Forest Service is responding to what its customers said. It is

changing the way it does business and setting service standards. For

example, Americans told the Forest Service that they "want to be

fully informed and advised as owners of the public land. Communities

want to participate in local decisions that affect their well-being."

The Forest Service is publishing its commitment to open

decisionmaking, involving its partners, its customers, and diverse

communities across the nation.


Highlights from Customer Service Standards:

National Park Service


The National Park Service has developed individualized brochures for

each of the 360 areas it manages. It is also posting customer service

standards in 323 visitor centers. Some nationwide standards are:

--- To keep the centers open during peak hours and seasons and

provide alternative sources of information when the center is closed.

--- To maintain the facility in a clean and safe condition.

--- To provide and maintain exhibits and audiovisual programs that

impart understanding and stimulate appreciation of the park and its

significant natural, historical, cultural, and recreational values.

--- To display schedules of programs and activities available

throughout the park.

--- To offer a wide variety of quality, park-related educational

items at fair market value sold in well-maintained outlets.

U.S. Coast Guard


The Coast Guard has set standards for the services it provides to

recreational boaters. It will provide customers with:

--- 24 hours/day, 7 days/week search and rescue services on demand.

--- 24 hours/day, 7 days/week radionavigation service.

--- Toll-free, 24 hours/day, 7 days/week Boating Safety Hotline.

--- Boating safety classes and courtesy inspections.


Americans also told the Forest Service that they want customer

service "equal to the best in business -- simple rules, reasonable

choices, flexibility, and less red tape." So the Forest Service is

setting service standards for its customers that respond to their

concerns and has promised to ask its customers, regularly for ways to

improve services and business practices.

The Coast Guard has joined in, too, setting standards to help keep

recreational boaters safe along its coasts. For its part, the

National Aeronautics and Space Adminis-tration is taking a second

look at its educational exhibits and is setting standards that pay

attention to the needs of people with a variety of physical and

intellectual capabilities.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers first opened locks in 1839 on

American waterways. Since then, the Corps has played a major role in

the development of the nation's water resources and infrastructure.

Today, one out of 10 Americans visits a Corps project at least once a

year. A large part of the Corps' job today is managing and

maintaining those projects and keeping them open to boaters,

fishermen, and other recreational users. The Corps is stepping up to

the customer service initiative. It is committed to surveying its

customers, setting standards, and increasing customer satisfaction.

International Travelers


People cross the borders of the United States 450 million times a

year -- most of them Americans on vacations, business- people, and

foreign visitors. Border guards have to perform a balancing act:

treat all travelers with courtesy and respect as they enter and leave

the country, but also identify and stop terrorists, drug smugglers,

illegal aliens, and illegal and dangerous merchandise. Not an easy


A traveler may encounter several federal agencies at the nation's


--- The Immigration and Naturalization Service ensures that only

those people who should be in the country enter.

--- The U.S. Customs Service combats smuggling and ensures that

merchandise brought into the country complies with laws.

--- The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service looks for fruit

and vegetables that carry diseases or insects, like medflies, which

could threaten America's agriculture.

--- The Fish and Wildlife Service looks for wildlife that is brought

into the country illegally.

Federal agencies are introducing new technology and shared electronic

systems to speed passenger processing without sacrificing

enforcement. But the bottom line is still interactions with people.

For example, Customs has set a standard to speed the clearance of

international air travelers. At airports, Immigration and

Naturalization Service has dedicated lines specifically to accelerate

clearance of U.S. citizens into the country.

This is great, but from a traveler's point of view what matters is

the total time spent waiting. It is the sum of time spent by Customs,

Immigration, and other federal agencies, plus the time standing at

the baggage carousel waiting for their suitcases.


Highlights from Customer Service Standards:

Department of State

The Department of State issues passports for U.S. citizens and

provides information and guidance to U.S. travelers. The State

Department offers these services for international travelers:

--- You will receive timely and accurate information on travel safety

and conditions in foreign countries 24 hours a day, seven days a


--- You will receive your passport within 25 days after receipt of

your application. Service will be provided in a courteous manner and,

whenever possible, we will try to meet your travel needs.

--- You will receive timely and courteous responses to requests for

American citizen services, and services will be provided by

knowledgeable and professional personnel.

--- Service to persons seeking visas to legally visit or reside in

the United States will be provided by knowledgeable, professional,

and courteous personnel.


Things are on the right track in Miami. Customs and other federal

agencies have committed to work with the Miami Chamber of Commerce,

the Dade County Aviation Division, the airlines, baggage handlers,

skycaps, and food servers in a partnership to cut total passenger

processing time to 45 minutes -- counting from the time the plane is

at the gate to the time passengers leave the Customs area with their

luggage. Although times are monitored for each part of the process,

it's the total time that counts. The partners are working closely to

iron out problems, and passenger clearance times have already

improved dramatically.

The State Department also provides services to international

travelers. It offers information on travel conditions and safety

overseas. It also provides the documents that you can't leave home

without -- visas for visitors and passports for the Americans who

make 45 million trips abroad each year. Now, the State Department is

taking steps to improve its customer service. It is setting

standards, designating customer service managers and teams at

regional offices, training passport employees, and expanding the

number of places where Americans can obtain passports -- from sites

in the Navajo nation to the Recorder of Deeds in Iowa.


Your Standards

These agencies and offices are publishing customer service standards

for travelers, tourists, and outdoor enthusiasts. The standards

appear in the "Travelers, Tourists, and Outdoor Enthusiasts" section

of Appendix B.

Department of Agriculture

Forest Service

Department of Defense

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Department of the Interior

Bureau of Land Management

Bureau of Reclamation

Fish and Wildlife Service

National Park Service

Department of Justice

Immigration and Naturalization Service

Department of State

Bureau of Consular Affairs

Department of Transportation

U.S. Coast Guard

Department of the Treasury

Bureau of Engraving and Printing

U.S. Customs Service

Executive Office of the President

Old Executive Office Building-Preservation Office

White House Visitors

National Aeronautics and Space Administration

NASA Exhibit Program

National Archives and Records Administration

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